The immediate past Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Dahiru Musdapher, has expressed anxiety over the state of affairs in the country. He noted that the country seems overwhelmed by a legion of crimes and vices.
The former CJN also cautioned journalists against "crafty and misleading headlines" which he said could "distort rational conclusions from the facts."
He noted that "our system is too weak to accommodate negative conjecture and innuendoes based on unconfirmed rumours."
Justice Musdapher made the above comments at the 2nd Anniversary Lecture of the National Mirror Newspapers, entitled "Media and the Judiciary: A Necessary Symbiosis," in Lagos, yesterday.
According to the foremost retired jurist, "More than ever before in the history of Nigeria, the scourge of terrorism poses great challenges to the Nigerian state. Our slide into anarchy has assumed dangerous dimensions, perhaps beyond the capacity of our security agencies to deal with the menace effectively."
He listed the security challenges as the "Boko Haram insurgency, political violence, corruption, nepotism, tribalism, indiscipline, abductions, and kidnappings, armed robbery, murder and extortion, bombings of places of worship and innocent Nigerians," saying their prevalence are all indicators of a failed state.
"These social upheavals clearly threaten the survival of the Nigeria nation and we all have a duty to rise and stem the tide. We are in a grave situation that requires our very best collective effort to surmount.
He also noted that the country seems to lack the capacity to arrest and prosecute those involved in crimes and criminal activities.
"Our capacity to investigate, arrest, prosecute and convict those found guilty of contravening our laws is evidently weak and compromised, yet no one is held responsible. "There is no objectivity in national discourse. Most newspaper articles and reports reveal an underlying sentimental pull that seems to outweigh the values of simple decency," he lamented.
Referring to the dilemma of judicial officers, Justice Musdapher emphasised that issues relating to the integrity of judges must be approached with extreme caution, and added that while it is necessary to inform the public and expose identified wrongdoing in all circumstances, the need for fairness and balanced reporting is also essential.
"It must be appreciated that the integrity of the judge and the judiciary is a sacred public trust that must be protected and upheld by all," he noted.